City Cast

How Do I Appeal My Property Tax Assessment?

Francesca Dabecco
Francesca Dabecco
Posted on February 7   |   Updated on July 7
Colorful houses in Pittsburgh's Southside. (Bgwalker / Getty)

Colorful houses in Pittsburgh's Southside. (Bgwalker / Getty)

If you bought property within the last seven years or your property was recently reassessed, you might want to challenge your property tax assessment through the special appeal period, open now until March 31. Why? Your savings could be huge — especially if you have commercial properties or can tap into the state homestead tax exemption. The appeal period is good news for you but bad news for local government and public schools, who rely on tax revenues for their budgets.

Why is there an opportunity to appeal?
An Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge ruled last year that the county failed to fairly operate the tax assessment appeal system. When a lot is sold, school districts or municipalities can appeal to have a new assessment that will boost the tax bill. That appeal is supposed to evaluate property values using a “common level ratio.” The court found that the county was “cooking the books” and using a ratio of 81.1%; the judge ordered it to be changed to 65.53%.

How do I know if I should appeal?
First, head to a real estate site like Zillow and check the “Zestimate” for your property. Next, look up your property in the Allegheny County Real Estate Portal. If the number on the county website is more than half of your home’s “Zestimate,” then it’s probably your best bet to file an appeal.

You can also use your property information from the county portal and fill out a worksheet to determine your current county, local, and school district property taxes, as well as how they could change after an assessment appeal.

Then what will happen?

You’ll have a hearing for your appeal in the summer. The refund is retroactive to last year, so if successful, you’d receive two years’ worth of refunds.

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